Activision Blizzard: Sell ASAP, Or Back Up The Truck? Plus Hearthstone, Cyberpunk 2077

stock chart activion blizzard
In this post I look at a few upcoming game titles, plus the usual gaming stock analysis.

After mentioning in my last blog post that I quit Hearthstone, I jumped back in during the last three weeks. I got 60 more wins on my wild Dragon Priest to complete 500 total for the golden Tyrande hero portrait.

Overall Hearthstone is a horribly managed. I’m not even going to get started ranting about the new gnome hero. The Blizzard marketers are apparently in charge of game development instead of the actual devs.

And the marketers are solely focused on literally stealing lunch money from as many kids as possible, not making a great game to play.

I don’t know what those people are doing out in California, but they clearly aren’t taking care of business. As Kripp said on his stream a few nights ago, the Hearthstone devs are competent, but nothing is happening. They aren’t acting like it.

Something is just plain wrong with this picture. Maybe they are working on something really big.


Gaming Stocks


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) has entered a downtrend in the last month, and was pushed down harder in the last week from significantly negative analyst press.

I sold ATVI and called for a decline last summer. My slow-and-steady, diversified GAMR ETF has outperformed Blizzard since then (see comparison image above.) The question now is whether to buy back into Blizzard on this pullback!

I agree with everything the gaming analyst says. In previous posts, I mentioned over-inflated expectations for ESports, especially among game-clueless Wall Street people.

The linked article doesn’t mention other analyst observations like intense holiday competition with numerous game releases this season, as well as intense competition coming in 2018.

Justin Olivetti posted a Massively article today noting very strong numbers for Overwatch, but unfortunately the sales for Destiny 2 were very disappointing in September.

Blizzard releases their quarterly earnings on Nov. 2 during Blizzcon.

I have to wonder if the earnings are planned during reveals and excitement to cushion any earnings miss or other disappointment. Destiny sales disappointed. This is a known, but the unknown is how much this will impact Blizzard’s earnings compared to estimates.

I feel like Hearthstone is also going to disappoint. The recent Lich King expansion actually made the game less fun, at least compared to Un’Goro.

Will I buy ATVI? I don’t know. It’s timing and intuition. Watching the stock during any broad market volatility in the next two weeks will definitely help shine light on the situation.

I do know that the window of opportunity will be small, and if I miss a rip, I will lose out on an opportunity to make hundreds of dollars by pressing a couple buttons at the right time.

My last stock buy was 50 shares of VLO on September 13 at $70.50.

I sold it back on 9/14 because it dipped sharply, and I was going away for a long weekend. I didn’t want to be holding a big trade with no ability to dump it. The stock is at $77.42 now.

I watched this stock for two years. I was a coward not long ago when VLO broke out of a massive downtrend at $50, and I just didn’t pull the trigger. And now I missed it again. A $350 gain in one month because I was an idiot, and away from my computer on exactly the wrong day.


Upcoming Games


Today I looked at the holiday roster of big releases, and the only game I really wanted to play was FIFA 18, story mode. But wait, it’s the story of a guy only, no female option, so scratch that off too.

It’s the winter Hearthstone expansion, only.

But wait, again! Today Massively posted a very rare update on Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt affirms they are working really big on this game. They say they are redefining and innovating.

This game looks absolutely awesome, but for the love of the Borg mother, please let us play as a female character, instead of regurgitating another Geralt.

There are no real RPGs on the list of holiday games, unless you count Divinity: Original Sin 2, which is pulling some very high ratings. Middle Earth: Shadows of War is a male protagonist again. So is Red Dead 2 next year. I’d be excited about Star Wars: Battlefront 2 by EA if it were a Bioware RPG instead of another mindless killing field game.

Ironically, EA killed Bioware, of course.

Vampyr from DontNod has been pushed back to Spring 2018, and of course it’s another male gender lock.

So if I crave an RPG this holiday season, I’ll look at Divinity: OS2. I didn’t get very far into the first one though. The puzzles were hard on my kitty brain, and I don’t really enjoy crafting and heavy inventory management in single-player games.


Personal Project and Portfolio


I’ve had some health problems in the last month, and these have really set me back in my energy level. I won’t meet my development goals for the end of October. I’ve made a lot of progress though, and my game is fairly playable.

The more complicated systems like combat and spellcasting are barely sketched into the gameplay.

I was investigating the development of a new pen art style for combat action panels, similar to the look of Pillars of Eternity. So I bought my first tablet to try to speed up my workflow. I expected the tablet to have a serious learning curve, however, and I’m now bogged down on that.

I’ve always done traditional drawing. I’ve done quite a bit of comic pen work, including a completed full-size and finished comic book, but it’s just too tedious. It took me a month of full time work to do like 20 pages.

So happy gaming, and leave your thoughts on Blizzard if you want. I’ll be watching the stock. Otherwise, I am watching First Data (FDC), Hack ETF (HACK), Amgen (AMGN), and JPM and ALB, both of which I missed the boat on, although I know I should have jumped into them long ago.

I’m almost more interested to just add to my current holdings on a pullback. The market is very high and expensive right now, and Trump has to explode at some point.

Self-directed investing has taught me that confidence and patience are two of the most important virtues. I need to set definite exit rules before I enter a position, and stick to those rules after I’ve forgotten my original thought process.

I am still patient with JD.com (JD), the worst performing stock in my portfolio, sitting at a tiny .49% loss after a series of perilous dips and drops. Netease (NTES) is finally looking strong in the past few weeks, and it looks like JD is primed to follow it with positive analyst recognition a few days ago in Barron’s.

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The Dark Lord, And General Thoughts Of Doom

owl river preview image

In this post I ramble about LotRO’s Mordor xpack, gaming stocks, the end of the world, and my personal game project (screenshot above).


Gaming Stocks


Through summer I predicted the usual summer swoon, and in recent weeks it has happened. My 15% gains in my previous investments this summer, Netease and JD.com, dwindled to near zero, then bounced this week with a feeble pulse.

This shows the all-important point of buying as low as possible – so you don’t lose faith and get knocked out on the next pullback.

I bought half back into Google on this pullback (I sold all at a peak last spring.) I added a solid bid on the ROBO ETF, which is a worldwide ETF focusing on the robotics industry. That’s right – the same robots that will soon take all of our jobs and rule the world.

I might double up Google on a major market breakdown. I hate Facebook. Facebook is moving into original content now, pitting itself against everybody else doing that, including Disney. Disney (DIS) just announced plans to pull its content from Netflix and send it to two new proprietary streaming services coming in 2019.

The main growth driver of big U.S. tech stocks in the last two years has been the cloud. Google is coming late to ramp this up, and sentiment is turning against Amazon, offering the cheap seats of the sector.

My diversified GAMR ETF is up 9% in a couple months. I’m happy with that. I don’t think it’s beating Blizzard (ATVI), but Activision Blizz is overbought. They had a great run with Hearthstone and Overwatch together, and they simply can’t keep accelerating at the same rate. Interest will inevitably dwindle.

So currently I have 25-30% of my portfolio in China, mainly by virtue of 80-100% gains in Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY). I have the GAMR and ROBO ETFs, and a U.S. tech-heavy index fund. My only U.S. single stocks are Home Depot (scoring a hurricane cha-ching recently up 25%), NVidia up 50% (again), and now back into Google on the pullback/consolidation. And the final entry is Stryker (SYK) up 25%.

I’m watching the TAN and XLV ETFs (solar and healthcare). For two years I’ve been watching these industries. Trump promised death to solar and death to high health care prices (as did Hillary.) No reform has happened. Both solar and health care are moving. I’m also watching Albemarle (ALB), a major Lithium producer, because solar and robots need serious battery power.

Buying ALB (and any metals/commodities) have issues because of the extremely weak dollar. The dollar could easily keep dropping due to the inability of Draghi to do anything about the soaring Euro, and China purposefully strengthening its currency in the last few weeks. Still, at some point it will reverse.

I’m also watching the quintupling of Bitcoin this year, with morbid interest. I downloaded an app to buy some mid-summer during a pullback, but it shot so fast past my buy point that I didn’t pull the trigger. There is no 100% safe, fool-proof way for me to buy these currencies. That’s the problem.

My friend is currently mining Monero and Zcash in the mountains in New Mexico. I’m also watching this with interest, because I need a second job. Or something. My current ripoff low pay is ridiculous.


Mordor


I don’t play Hearthstone anymore. I’m on the verge of not playing LotRO anymore either. I finished Mordor and capped my characters on both accounts, and was happy with the expansion experience while dual boxing.

The solo Mordor is pitiless though. I play for a bit on my Warden and just log out. The endgame grind is confusing, over-complicated, and opaque.

The LotRO devs thought it was a good idea to offer good daily rewards randomly on some days, and bad ones on other days. I logged into LotRO tonight to play, and logged out fifteen minutes later. It’s a bad day for the dailies. No key. Just kill me.

Most of the work I did in the last two zones was quickly obsolete in Mordor. Everything I did over the summer was a waste of time. This leaves me angry. The LotRO devs over-pushed obsolescence, and now I feel stupid for running this hamster wheel for them. I know it will all be pointless in a few months, except for getting into the dungeons.

That’s all I want – to play dungeons, but I’m apparently not willing to invest hundreds of hours to get ready to have fun. I’m simply not logging in.

There are also no good, likable characters in this expansion. The evil leaders in Mordor are done well, but they are not your friends. And you can’t go fight them without spending hundreds of hours solo questing for purple junk to go in their dungeons, hopefully, eventually.

And then all that work will be obsolete again. Yes, everyone knows this, but I just finished a major Wastes grind at the end of July. I’m more in the mood to say fuck you than start all over again.


End of The World


Trump has to be the Anti-Christ. 90% of everything he says is a lie. The good news is the biggest hurricane ever is currently coming after his properties in Florida. So maybe nature is fighting back.

The bad news is that he is currently campaigning to do the age-old Republican tradition of tax reform AKA lining the pockets of the rich, at the expense of all the idiots and bigots who believe Trump’s lies and support him.

It’s unlikely we will survive the next four years without major disasters. That’s just the way the karma cookie crumbles.


Tunnels And Trolls, and My Personal Project


I just downloaded the T&T app that very recently released, to my tablet. I want to study the Tunnels and Trolls solitaire adventures to learn what made them fun way back in the day.

Currently it appears to be breaking my Android tablet Wi-Fi connection whenever it tries to update. But it updated on my iPhone, and I played Naked Doom. I ate hallucinogenic mushrooms and died falling into a chasm after being bitten by vampire bats.

I have a feeling the fun is the crazy situations in which your decisions make a big difference, and the results are wild. This design is difficult in a persistent campaign-type game.

You can’t just hand out a Heroic Sword +5 in your first adventure, for fun. The many ways to achieve instant death also have to be explained in my game world where your character is designed to emerge with some treasure and experience, and go on to the next story.

Today I sold an eBook, so my thanks to whomsoever purchased it. I published my first trilogy of novels two years ago on Halloween. My bilingual school of witches and wizards is already open for visitation, but my goal is to formalize that as of Halloween this year.

I’ve moved away from Greco-Roman mythology to the relatively British flavor of islands populated by elves and fairies. I’m on the fence about using Scottish and Gaelic names, however, since I’m trying to teach modern English. I deeply regret my stupid lack of imagination in this whole novel and game development process.

I’m a super smart person, but I am not a fun person. At all. So it’s an almost hopeless challenge to channel my playful side on a daily basis and try to entertain.

Sometimes I cringe at the literary success of young, relatively undeserving people with the right luck and connections, but I can understand how they are better writers than I am with popular fiction. I was probably a more inspired writer when I was twenty years of age, but I had no idea how to write good fiction.

Nowadays I know how to write, but no one cares. Even game blogging has become a popularity contest – among makers of video content.


LotRO Mordor Beta, Hearthstone Frozen Throne, Gaming Stock Update, Tunnels And Trolls

gamr etf


Mordor Open Beta


This weekend the character model updates arrived on the LotRO beta server, and honestly they look very good. The newly aligned Standing Stone developers clearly have a mind for pushing improvements for LotRO.

Last weekend I played through the High Elf introduction on LotRO’s Mordor beta server, which involves a flashback to the Last Alliance at the end of the second age in Middle Earth.

In looks and animation, High Elf is sort of a cross between Elf and man. I found the intro sequences to be epic and entertaining, just long enough to serve the purpose, but not long enough to be boring.

Hardcore lore-monkeys and other serious-business types in the LotRO forum lambasted the High Elf production quality, however.

Some criticism, like the wet dog scraggly hair modeling, might be justified, although they have already improved that in the third beta weekend.

I thought the little story was fine. The elf does Night Elf-style dive-rolls. Most low-budget MMO’s these days don’t even have racial start areas.


Hearthstone announces Knights of the Frozen Throne


Blizzard announced Knights of the Frozen Throne yesterday. Frozen Throne might bring more deathrattle cards for my priest, which is nice.

Knights is especially exciting for players who like PvE story content in Hearthstone, because this xpack will bring that back after a year hiatus, and the discontinuation of adventures after Karazhan last year.

Also Blizz is running a promotion for the next week for double gold earned from quests. So if you’re on a break from Hearthstone, you should probably check in and knock those down for 100+ gold per quest completion.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I sold Blizzard (ATVI) at $59.50 near the recent high. Today I bought back into the GAMR ETF, as shown in the image above. After an almost $1000 gain, I was just holding too much Blizzard.

It was easier for taxes to sell it all instead of taking half off the table. Also, I do not trust the U.S. market right now, or the inflated Blizzard stock price, or the profit margins on Blizzard’s impressive eSports productions. If they are going to have a lackluster quarter, it could be this one.

Today Blizzard, EA, and TTWO saw big buying demand on a market bounce. They were well above any other stocks I track. Clearly a lot of people are eager to shove their money into video game companies.

If you’ve been wanting to get into Blizzard, today was a solid bet. Blizzard is bouncing off of the top line of a straight trend channel started last February. The MACD oversold indicator (at bottom of images) is also good.

I would rather see Blizzard break and fall down into that channel before I re-buy, i.e. around $54-55. Or I’d like to see a broad market meltdown or flash crash.

This year has been horrible for retail in general. A lot of stocks have been smashed. Food. Clothes. Now auto parts. Some of this weakness may bleed over into video games, or maybe just real estate, health care, and tech companies are devouring everyone’s lunch money.

For now, I opted for a more global diversity in my video game investment. It’s interesting that the GAMR ETF holdings do not have Blizz, EA, and TTWO in the top 10. I like that. I’m also still holding NVidia, Tencent, and Netease.

NTES was my gaming pick in my last blog post in May. It is currently up 11.47% since I purchased it. According to a chart comparison tool, NTES has outperformed Blizzard slightly during the last two months. I wouldn’t expect that to continue, but it’s nice.

I also sold Silver(SLV) for a small gain at 16.30. It’s now down to 14.73, and I’m looking at it again. The problem is that both it and the dollar are much lower, which is a big problem. It would be better to buy the dollar if it turns (symbol UUP).

Other names on my current radar are Patrick Industries (PATK) for secular need for cheap housing, a trend shaping up and good PE, PEG ratios, Autozone (AZO) for oversold due to panic over O’Reilly’s released numbers, and telecom ETF (VOX), which was picked by an analyst I like (Tom Lee), and it’s a Trump trade.

edit- Today, Monday morning, I bought a bit of JD.com (JD) at 39.90 on heavy volume against a very good stop out level at 38.40. This is a small, low-risk bet for big potential gain after a very strong last earnings report and a period of consolidation.

edit- Also,as of Tuesday the GAMR ETF now has Blizzard at #7, so apparently they are buying the current weakness.


Tunnels And Trolls App Still WIP


I checked on the T&T app this week, and apparently Metaarcade is still working on it.

They’ve put up a few updates in the last week, however, and the blog post suggests the team is fighting the 90-90 rule:

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Yes, that sounds about right. I’m in the same situation with my own game project, which is currently looking great. The hardest problems still need to be whipped into shape, however. My next blog post will be about that, with my first module ready for play-testing.


Gaming Stocks Continue To Rip, But U.S. Markets Look Iffy

stock chart
Gaming companies reported excellent results this spring earning season, sending Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Sony, and NVidia yet again to all-time highs. NVidia and Netease (Blizzard’s partner in China) were both up close to 5% today.

Jim Cramer discussed NVidia at length today, noting the huge movement into artificial intelligence, and that NVidia (NVDA) is really the only pure AI investment opportunity. Google is in AI, but is much more diversified. NVidia killed earnings yet again in this quarter, and I’m up 25% already, again.

At this point, however, you may be a little too late for U.S. gaming equities in general this year. The old adage is: “sell in May and go away“.

Some indicators are showing a current slow-down in the U.S., great investor complacency ($VIX), and a narrowing market (fewer big stocks keeping it afloat), in addition to the upcoming seasonal weakness. “Bad!”

There are good opportunities for gaming stocks in Asia, however, which also avoid risks of Donald Trump insanity. Big money managers like Jeffrey Gundlach are pointing to Asia (emerging markets) as well in the last few weeks.

Sony ($SNE) and Netease ($NTES) are both breaking out as of last week, as shown in the image above, so lets look at those.

The image shows two types of buyable breakouts. Sony is breaking to an all-time high past levels the stock previously was rejected. Netease is breaking out of a three-month consolidating downtrend.

In my experience, the Netease breakout is far more reliable, which is demonstrated by the much stronger move out of the bounding trend line. Netease just reported strong earnings results, so there is less risk of a bad surprise for quite a while.

On the other hand, Netease distributes Blizzard’s games in China, while Sony has the Playstation. That’s kind of better. Sony is also more diversified and doesn’t have the threat of China’s government slapping regulations, investigations, or other problems on companies, so it’s a safer bet in many other ways.

If you look at Sony’s longer term chart below, you see the same big pullbacks as Netease current has, and then the results in the following months. The pullbacks would have been better times to buy. In my past couple years of focusing on the stock market, this pattern is gold. It works almost every time. If it doesn’t, you sell again before you take a significant loss.

stock chart

Barron’s recommends Sony. The Sony P/E ratio looks high, but Baron quotes 18 on forward-looking earnings. I bought Netease a few weeks ago as my first new investment since I re-bought NVidia a few months ago.

I still don’t think it’s too late on the Netease breakout, or I would not have made this post. I worry about over-exposure to Blizzard, but I’m not ignoring the NTES chart. I’m looking for more charts like it, actually, like the current chart for silver (SLV).

The SLV chart alone isn’t enough. The USD dollar collapsed in the past week, confirming weakness and supporting price of all commodities in $USD. Copper also has extended weakness despite some miner strikes, which pressures production. Silver production is partly a byproduct of copper production.

I’m starting to wonder if computerization of market trading (the trend towards computer programs managing investment funds) is creating self-fulfilling prophecies on these patterns that make them even more reliable. After all, traditionally, artificial intelligence tends to be very predictable. So, profit?

As far as gaming, I’m still playing Hearthstone. I made rank 15 this month much earlier than usual. I’m chipping away at golden Priest and max level Rogue.

My elf school game project is coming along very nicely. I’m not satisfied with incorporating Tolkien-style elves, or some random video game-style elf race, so I’m looking more at the Nordic tradition.

Since my game teaches Spanish/English, approaching white race issues is interesting. The game protagonist would probably be the equivalent of a ‘mudblood’ in Elfland. I’m currently reading The King of Elfland’s Daughter on Project Gutenberg.


Un’Goro Launch, Gaming Stock Update

elf waistcoat


Un’Goro XPack For Hearthstone


I haven’t posted in forever, so here goes.

Un’Goro launches for Hearthstone tomorrow. This xpack has (on average) the most powerful cards yet seen in Hearthstone. If you snooze, you’ll lose, and you’ll just keep losing. (It’s a trap.)

The good news is that if you’re a newer player, you can catch up faster because these cards are more powerful cards than 2016 cards, and the cards from 2015 are rotating out of Standard mode completely now.

I have almost 100 packs to open tomorrow morning, so that should be fun. Afterwards, I plan to take a break from the game and let everyone else figure out what decks I should be playing.

Hearthstone is an immature, somewhat toxic cross section of the human male species. The PvP aspect is also stressful and unhealthy. I want to work more on my personal project in the coming months.

I’ve been working on 2d art for 100 different character outfits: 50 female outfits and 50 male. I’m currently working on #43.

Right now I’m envisioning today’s male elves as lazy and pretentious, but very cool and kind hippies who wear waistcoats with folded, scented handkerchiefs (see above). This derives from fairy tales and books suggesting fey men wear antique waistcoats.

Women can wear pants, dresses, or whatever is sensible for the occasion, and I plan to give you a magical wardrobe that switches the gender of all of your clothes, if you would like to do so.

This is very time-consuming. After a month of doing only art, I want to get back to programming the features and gameplay. I’m honestly a little sick of make-believe. Those novels were a very, very long slog.


LotRO


I finished the main story of update 20 (Black Gate) with my Warden. I need to find the new gold shinies and work on getting those for Mordor.

I’m dual-boxing a 105 Captain with my 105 Warden. They’re kind of a “power couple,” and the “final answer” for my LotRO play going forward.


Gaming Stocks In The News


Admittedly I haven’t been super news-focused until the past week or two.

NVidia took a 7% loss yesterday on an analyst downgrade. Another analyst said a lot of people switched over from NVidia (stock) to AMD. AMD was the 4th best performer of the first quarter 2017.

Another guy said he was selling all semiconductors. Another expert said semiconductors are overdue for carnage, far outperforming the S&P. So now, at the time of most pessimism, is not the time to sell. I’m still in NVidia at a 6% loss on a small 50% holding (i.e. trivial, no worry, I can double down at a lower point.)

A few weeks ago Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company and owner of League of Legends, announced a partnership with NVidia. Tencent Cloud will adopt NVIDIA® Tesla® GPU accelerators.

“Tencent Cloud GPU offerings with NVIDIA’s deep learning platform will help companies in China rapidly integrate AI capabilities into their products and services,” said Sam Xie, vice president of Tencent Cloud. “Our customers will gain greater computing flexibility and power, giving them a powerful competitive advantage.”

This is in the context of China very much wanting to create its own chip industry, so it’s possible they just plan to study and steal all of NVidia’s secrets.

Tencent also announced a 5% stake in Tesla, the company, among its other businesses. Maybe Tencent confused Elon Musk’s car/energy company with NVidia Tesla chips, or maybe the name “Tesla” means Fabulous Rich Rabbit in Chinese. I have no idea.

I do know that Chinese companies are trying to get their money out of China, and one way is to invest in companies in other countries. Honestly Xi Jinping impresses me. He seems to be a serious fighter of corruption in China, just the opposite of Trump.

He strongly discourages golf in China as a wasteful game for the rich and corrupt. He has shut down scores of golf courses, which have become a symbol of excessive wealth and corruption. This looks like Communism actually working, to me, and Trump vs. Xi Jinping is looking more like a catastrophe.

Last and least, Gamestop reported disappointing sales this week, and they are closing 150 or so stores. This is the same old story of digital downloads and streaming content taking over.

In related news, Trump is canceling consumer protections for Internet privacy. So while you’re streaming, the big cable companies are watching you, recording your activity, and are now selling your browsing history and personal information to any bidder. So good job, Trump. You’re a real winner.